Summer High School Programs in Cambodia with Rustic Pathways

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About

Cambodia is a country with a painful past and a hopeful future. Rustic Pathways has partnered with social enterprises and local community development organizations since 1999 to help students gain a deep understanding of the beautiful, complex realities of Cambodia. Our staff members are skilled at teaching while keeping it fun, and students often leave with a changed perspective on their own lives.

The ancient temples of Angkor Wat are jaw-dropping, the rural countryside shimmers with brilliant green rice fields, and the incredibly friendly locals are eager to show you around. Amongst the beauty, you’ll also be exposed to the pressing social and economic issues facing the country. The contrast can be shocking, but it can also be positively transformational.

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Reviews

9.64 Rating
based on 28 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 92.86%
  • 7-8 rating 7.14%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.7
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
  • Growth 9.6
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.6
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 9 - 16 of 28
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Veronica
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Snapshots of Southeast Asia

People always discuss culture shock as a noticeable part of their experience when traveling to foreign countries. However, the more impactful experience that I felt was the reverse culture shock that unexpectedly hit me when I returned to Los Angeles. I began to see the people I know, my regular hangout spots, and my life in a new light after the most transformative adventure in Southeast Asia. The journey I underwent with Rustic Pathways is something I will never forget and has changed me forever due to the skills I learned, the exotic cultures I was introduced to, the life-changing people I met, and the perspectives I gained as a result. This trip is focused on photography and, as an extension, photojournalism. Not only did I learn how to properly use a camera but I was taught the meaning of the difference between a "tourist" and a "traveler" and how to be a respectful photographer when you want to capture the sincerity of another culture and make connections with locals, but you don't speak their language. Along with those tangible skills, the edification I received as I talked to locals of each village we went to and heard their stories, improved me as a person because I gained perspective as they taught me (whether intentionally or not) the importance of life and appreciating all people. That's why, when I returned to Los Angeles and I saw the lifestyle of the world around me, I began to think about Eng, a 59 year old woman who has been making clay pots all day everyday since she was 13 who we met when visiting her village. She accepted us with excitement and guided me as she attempted to teach me her trade of clay pot-making (which is quite difficult). I still think about her and the other encounters I had with strangers who are always going to be in my memory, the skills I learned from the talented and genuine program leaders, and the beauty of Southeast Asia. For these reasons I implore you to take this journey with Rustic Pathways.

What would you improve about this program?
Never underestimate the toll that traveling can take on your body and mind. This program was jam-packed with incredible activities in each moment of every day, coupled with constant traveling by boat, van, and plane. The two other girls and I were utterly exhausted by the end of the day, so although every moment of our journey was quite fulfilling, sometimes it was hard to appreciate because we were so tired. This issue could be aided by more frequent rest moments and perhaps less traveling each day. Overall, this is a minute issue and gives you a good excuse to drink lots of their delicious coffee.
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Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Floating Village Service

Going to Cambodia with Rustic Pathways has been one of the most eye-opening and valuable experiences of my life. I, along with the amazing program leaders and friends that I made on this trip, got to experience many sides of Cambodia. We began our trip by learning about the unique culture that the country has, and then we got to see it first-hand in the various cities we visited and during the homestay. Our homestay took place on a floating village on the Tonle Sap River, and it was an experience that I will never forget. This part of the trip felt the most "rustic" as we slept in mosquito nets in small floating houses with limited electricity and no running water. Despite this contrast from the lifestyle that I am used to, there was never a time that I felt uncomfortable during the homestay. We got used to bucket showers and holes in the ground for toilets. When we weren't at the floating village, our group enjoyed hotels with AC and visited various important sites such as Angkor Wat and the S-21 museum. Overall, this trip was an enduring adventure filled with amazing people and experiences that I will not forget.

What would you improve about this program?
Although this trip was nearly perfect, being able to spend more time with the locals during the homestay would be an improvement.
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Isabelle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Off the map cambodia

Off the map was an exciting lively program, there was never a dull moment of the trip and all the leaders that work for rustic are absolutely amazing, this was my 7th trip with rustic (hopefully that says a lot about how I feel about rustic) and everytime I expect the best and I get it. Rustic pathways puts so much time and effort into every program not one is lacking. Off the map concludes in the floating villages which is a beautiful village that Is literally floating on tonle sap lake, I've been there twice now and it just keeps getting better.

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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Floating Village Service

This trip is one of the most underrated trips Rustic offers. Cambodia is a country just people overlook, and do not really care about. This trip opened my eyes to a country I never really knew about. Everything about their history is facinating, and the things you do, and the sights you see are things everyperson should see. Completing this trip, you get to stay in hotels with AC which is nice, but you also get Rustic and live like a local and use a squattie pottie. It is the perfect combination. All of the food you eat is amazing, and all of the people who sign up for the trip want to be their, not just because their parents forced them to come. I 100% recommed this trip to everyperson in the whole wide world because it has changed me as a person, in every way shape and form, and has opened up my eyes to a country that will always be in my heart.

What would you improve about this program?
More time with children
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Catherine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Review: Off the Map Cambodia

After doing five Rustic programs, I can confidently say that Off the Map Cambodia, which I did this summer, was my favorite. This trip is a three week service oriented trip that does a fantastic job of providing students with a full view of Cambodia. We got the opportunity to do two village homestays, one of which was in a rural village on land and the other of which was in a floating village. These two portions of the trip were my favorites because we not only got to form a complete picture of what life in Cambodia is like, but we also got to partake in extremely meaningful, intense service projects. Another aspect of the trip was the time in the more developed cities of Cambodia, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. These were also great legs of the trip because they satisfied our interests as tourists to see the major landmarks of the country. Personally, I felt that this trip gave the perfect balance between travel/sight seeing and service/cultural immersion. I got to experience everything from swimming under monstrous waterfalls and touring magnificent temples to eating tarantulas and using a bucket shower each day. By the end of the three weeks, I had made lifelong friends of my peer students as well as my local and international leaders. Not only did I have the best three weeks of my life, but I grew tremendously as a person. I learned so much about myself physically, mentally, and socially by pushing my boundaries and challenging myself in ways that I could never get at home. Not to mention, I made lifetime memories and learned so many things that I never would have known had Rustic Pathways not given me this opportunity to travel.

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Nicole
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Floating Village Service

The Floating Village Service in Cambodia was the most unique and interesting experience. While there we got to experience a range of activities, from visiting world-renowned sites to interacting with the locals. Some of my favorite things that we got to do was visiting and swimming in a waterfall in Siem Reap, building a house for an 83-year old woman, and just bonding with all the people on my trip. From the leaders, to the people, to the amazing place, I cannot recommend this program more.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing that I would recommend is that there was a bit more interaction with the children in the villages. All the locals we met were absolutely amazing and so welcoming and it would be so fun if we could see them more.
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Jaden
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience in the Floating Villages!

I spent five weeks with Rustic in SE Asia this summer (Floating Village Service was my last program of the season), and the experience has tremendously impacted my life in the most positive way imaginable. Rustic Pathways has an incomparable amount of unique connections throughout the region, and staying in a floating village along the Tonle Sap River is definitely one of them.

From learning about the tragedies of the Khmer Rouge to building a floating house for a family in need, I was lucky enough to have experienced the unparalleled culture of Cambodia. This program was a great, balanced mix of city life and village life. My group and I spent a few days exploring Phnom Penh and Battambang before heading to two floating villages (primarily Prek Toal) for about a week. We slept on thin mattresses with mosquito nets, and we went to sleep sweating because it was so hot! And I loved every second of it! The final few days were spent in a really nice hotel in Siem Reap. We explored Angkor Wat, markets, and museums there.

Completing service and living in a floating village really opened my eyes, and made me even more grateful for the privileges I have. All three of my leaders were caring, kind, hilarious, and fun. At one point during my trip, I got sick with tonsillitis, but my leaders took me to the clinic and encouraged me to stay positive so I could continue to have the time of my life (and I did, many thanks to them!). There was a total of seven students on the trip (five girls and two boys), and we all bonded really quickly. Everyone on the trip was so interesting and fun, and even after arriving home from the trip, we've kept in touch.

By the end of your program, two weeks will have felt like one day! Prepare for an unforgettable experience.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing, it was incredible!
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Kylie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Rustic is more than Travel (Off the map: Cambodia)

Rustic Pathways is Truly amazing. I traveled with a different program to South Africa last year and it was not nearly this life changing. This year i traveled to Cambodia with Rustic pathways on the Off the Map: Cambodia program. On our trip there was 17 students(sold out) 13 girls and 4 boys. From the very beginning our leaders were amazing, they both knew so much about the world and had so many experiences and lessons that i learned so much from. I could not say any more wonderful things about my one leader she literally changed my perspective so much i cant even explain it and I've only been home for 2 days. During the program we went to a lot of the country where we stayed in nice hotels for a day or two to see the temples and museums then for most of the trip we were out in the villages in home stays. That was the most trans-formative part of the trip. I already knew that people didn't have a lot there but i learned so much more that is just indescribable through my peers, our leaders, and the community. Then we went to a few more schools to do some service work and fix up their grounds. Then we went to the elephant valley project which get elephants from their abusive environment either from riding them in tourism, or working in an industry like logging. Then they are brought to the valley of Mondulkuri in the mountains of Cambodia. It was absolutely beautiful and lush but full of a lot of bugs which is just part of the experience. We also went to a lot of waterfalls in between this. Now the drives to these places are long but so worth it. This is because you get to know your peers and leaders so much better and you got to go to so many different places in Cambodia in 25 days. I learned so much from my peers and that was part of the wonderful experience. The food was always great no matter if it was traditional Khmer food or a western or Indian restaurant. Usually by the end of the day everyone was so full we couldn't even eat dinner. Also during the home stays we had our own cooks so the food was always good and safe. At the end of the program we went to the floating villages and built a house there, that was floating! That was my favorite service project and home stay. This was because it was so unique. Then we went to Angkor Wat which was just as great as the pictures. We went to 3 different temples and it was very interesting to learn about it and we got to see many wild monkeys. I don't have enough words to describe my wonderful experience and how much it has changed me. I encourage you to go on this trip or any trip with Rustic because we do so many things that help other people and ultimately help ourselves in the process. Thank you Rustic!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing could have been better it was all amazing!